The Balinese Priest’s Bell
My Balinese Priest’s Bell accompanied by a photograph of its creator
The Indonesian island of Bali first crossed my travel radar when I read Karen Kingston’s inspirational book “Creating Sacred Space with Feng Shui,” around 1996. Karen’s book quickly propelled me to London, and two of her weekend workshops on Spaceclearing – the art of cleansing and purifying the CHI or energy in buildings or places.
A procession through Ubud’s Sacred Monkey Forrest – offerings are carried on the head
Karen lived part of the year on Bali, which is steeped in the traditions of creating sacred space. I learned that the Balinese create daily healing rituals, making offerings on sacred altars to their Gods, and using sound energy from sacred bells to polish CHI. Balinese bells have a unique sound that creates a beautiful energy wherever they are used.
I felt compelled to buy a Balinese bell from Karen. I eventually bought two!
I began to use my sacred bells on a regular basis in my home, and in my shop and healing centre, which was located in Stirling, Scotland. I have already mentioned in a past post New Beginnings how two Indian ladies commented on the energy of the building saying, “the energy in your shop is like a temple.”
I continued to use both Balinese bells in many sacred ceremonies over the years, and hoped that one day I too would visit Bali.
In 2013, my dream came true when I spent 39 days on this beautiful island. I planned 9 days by the sea at the resort of Seminyak, to acclimatise to the heat and release any jet lag. The remainder of my visit would be spent in Ubud, the cultural and creative hub of the island.
The highlight of my time in Seminyak was seeing my hotel’s staff perform a healing ceremony for the full moon. The preparations began in early morning, with everyone gathered in their best attire – the women in jewel coloured lace tops with contrasting sashes and beautiful sarongs. The men wore less colourful sarongs with crisp shirts. There was much busyness for several hours, as series of baskets were piled high with fruit and flowers, and placed on several altars in the hotel grounds.
Finally, everything was in place for the ceremony.
The full moon ceremony in Seminyak
I watched spellbound through my bedroom window, as a Balinese priest, dressed in brilliant white, began to recite prayers, while holding a bell and ringing it ceremoniously over his heart. I felt incredibly privileged to witness this replica of my own Balinese bells, and I understood why the hotel held such a peaceful ambience.
My time in Ubud was filled with yet more blessings. I stayed in a beautiful boutique hotel or homestay located in the village of Nyuh Kuning, near the home of Ketut Liyer, the healer who found fame in Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Eat, Pray, Love”.
A few days into my stay, I was asked by the homestay staff, “Would you like to make some offerings today?”
Of course, I replied in the affirmative.
Later, Iput and Njurah patiently explained how to make small woven baskets from bamboo leaves, while I followed their instructions. It was quite a precise technique, and I took several attempts to make a decent basket, before Njurah finally announced, “Now, you can fill it with flowers.”
Offerings class with Iput and Njurah
I copied him and gathered a small bundle of red, then orange, pink and purple flowers and laid them in my basket. Finally, I topped them with some green foliage, chopped into delicate strips. All the colours had been dictated by Bali’s own version of Feng Shui called Tri Hita Karana.
Eventually, I completed four baskets of offerings and then placed them on four separate altars, whilst offering up my own private prayers. I placed one before Ganesh, the elephant god, who is associated with good fortune and often graces Balinese shops. His statue guarded the swimming pool and several of the other homestay shrines.
I share many other highlights of my first trip to Bali in my memoir “Watching the Daisies.” Thankfully, I returned to this beautiful island in 2014, staying in Ubud for a full month.